DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

EDUCATION

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


BOARD OF EDUCATION

Duties of the County Board of Education began with the State School Fund Commissioners, the County School Commissioners, and the Board of County School Commissioners.

State School Fund Commissioners. The General Assembly, in 1816, appointed nine commissioners to oversee the State school fund in each county (Chapter 256, Acts of 1816). The commissioners were to “establish a central free school in each election district” and report back to the General Assembly on how funds were used. It is not clear in the 1816 law if the word “free” refers to the classical curriculum described in 1694 or lack of tuition.

County School Commissioners. In 1825, a statewide public education system was formed (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). The justices of the levy courts in each county appointed nine school commissioners who were to divide the county into school districts. The levy courts also appointed up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools for each county. The inspectors were to examine teachers, issue teacher certificates, visit schools, give suggestions to teachers and school trustees, and report to school commissioners. Elected by the voters of each school district, three trustees were to purchase schoolhouse sites, repair and furnish the schoolhouses, and hire all teachers within the district. Authorized to keep records of school commissioner meetings, a district clerk was elected by the voters annually. A district collector collected monies from school taxes.

Board of County School Commissioners. In 1865, the State Board of Education called for a “uniform system of Free Public Schools” (Chapter 160, Acts of 1865). The public school system became centralized; “supervision and control of Public Instruction” was vested in the State Board of Education. The State Board appointed boards of county school commissioners in each county to serve four-year terms. Three years later, boards of county school commissioners regained control and supervision over county schools (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). The public school system was no longer accountable to the State Board of Education. Within each county, voters elected county school commissioners, from each election district, to two-year terms. These school commissioners had custody over schoolhouse property and were expected to pay teacher salaries.

For all counties, including Dorchester, the school commissioners reorganized in 1870 (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). County circuit court judges were to appoint three school commissioners for their respective counties. At the same time, the Board of State School Commissioners, previously named the State Board of Education, was reformed.

In 1892, the Governor gained authority to appoint county school commissioners (Chapter 341, Acts of 1892). By 1900, the Governor was to take into consideration minority party representation when appointing county school commissioners (Chapter 29, Acts of 1900).

Board of Education. Boards of county school commissioners were renamed boards of education in 1916 (Chapter 506, 1916). They were to be appointed by the Governor without regard to political affiliation.

Today, educational matters that affect Dorchester County come under the control of the Board of Education (Code Education Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-126).

The Board is composed of seven members. Five are elected by the voters to four-year terms (Code Election Law Article, secs. 8-801 through 8-806). Two nonvoting student members, one chosen by students at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School and one by students at North Dorchester High School, serve one-year terms (Code Education Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-105; 3-5A-01 through 3-5A-05).

SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

The Superintendent of Schools administers the Dorchester County Public School System, and serves as executive officer, secretary, and treasurer of the Board of Education (Code Education Article, secs. 4-102; 4-201 through 4-206).

With the approval of the State Superintendent of Schools, the Board of Education appoints the Superintendent of Schools to four-year terms.


CHESAPEAKE COLLEGE

Chesapeake College was founded in 1965 as Maryland's first regional community college. A two-year college, it serves the residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties. Based at its Wye Mills campus in Queen Anne's County, the College has centers at Cambridge and Easton, and offers courses at local schools and community centers throughout the upper Eastern Shore of Maryland (Code Education Article, secs. 16-201 through 16-203).


PUBLIC LIBRARY

The Dorchester County Public Library has a central library in Cambridge, and a branch library in Hurlock.

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